“These gunmen should repent and give their lives to Christ. I don’t know what the Government could do about the shooting in Laventille. Sometimes you are in your bed sleeping and you just start hearing gunshots ringing off, and you have to go under your bed and hide,” lamented Judy Salandy, mother of Petrina, who died after being shot by sniper fire during a shootout in Port-of- Spain on Sunday morning. Ayres was also gunned down.
The unrelated victims were on St Paul Street when snipers hiding on the hilltops opened fire. Petrina and her four children were on their way home from a grocery. She shielded her children from the gunfire and was able to throw her youngest, five-month-old daughter, Kayla, from her hands to safety.
Her other children Lorenzo, 13, Raheem, 11 and four-year-old Jaydon were unhurt.
But the brave mother got shot, and later died at Port-of-Spain General Hospital. Had Petrina lived, she would have celebrated her 40th birthday today.
A single bullet entered her back, killing her, pathologist Dr Eastlyn McDonald Burris concluded after an autopsy on Petrina at Forensic Science Centre, St James yesterday.
Baby Kayla was treated at Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope and has since been discharged.
Petrina’s mother Judy yesterday said that very morning she was at the Port-of-Spain hospital receiving treatment for an illness and on her return home at Phase Four, Beetham Gardens, a young man arrived and said her daughter had been shot.
Her family’s pain can only be eased by faith in God, she said. “We are not doing too well but we are a strong family so we will make it, as long as we pray. I am putting the entire matter in God’s hands. Let God deal with this, because he is greater. I don’t want anyone to take revenge on these people. I don’t want anyone to die because someone was avenging my child’s death. I will not allow it,” Judy said. Petrina’s first daughter and eldest child Renee, 22, was not so forgiving.
“I want the people who did this to suffer,” she said bitterly.
Renee is pregnant and lamented her mother would never see her first grandchild. Her aunt, Alicia, Petrina’s younger sister, expressed shock at the lack of concern gang members have for the lives of residents in the communities.
“I still cannot understand, if you are a badman and you are out there doing these kinds of things, if a girl with her child is in your way, you would just kill her?” she said. “You don’t care about your mother, or your sister? You don’t have someone in your life that you care about? You just shoot my sister for nothing? If I had to meet the man that did this face to face I would ask what came in his mind to see my sister with her children and still shoot my sister and kill my sister.”
Later, after the family viewed Petrina’s body, Alicia was inconsolable. She had to be carried by relatives to a car as she screamed out.
“Oh God why did they do that to my sister!? I don’t want anybody to feel the way I am feeling right now! I am so mad! This is really hurting me,” she cried.
There were others at the Forensic Centre who knew her pain. The family of Rohan Ayres. Though they did not want to be named, they spoke of a 15-year-old boy, a student of Russell Latapy Secondary School in Morvant, who loved football.
“All we want is justice for our son and peace in the area,” appealed a relative. On Sunday, residents expressed fear over the violence in their neighbourhoods, with many saying they want to move out.